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Willian: Underrated Chelsea winger keeping Hudson-Odoi out of the side

Willian has been at Chelsea for 6 years now. The £30 million signing from Anzhi in 2013 has proven to be a success for the club. During his time in London, the Brazilian has helped The Blues win 2 Premier Leagues, 2 domestic cups and a Europa League. Not always a starter, the winger always puts in 100%, contributing to important goals for the side. But this season in particular, he’s shining for Frank Lampard, even if he doesn’t get the credit for it.

“Everyone knows how I love this club and how I enjoy to play for Chelsea. If I can, I will stay here until I am 40 years old but football is not always like this,”

Willian on his future at Chelsea (Sky Sports)

The club’s Player of the Year in 2015/16 has had a great 2019/20 thus far. 4 goals and 4 assists in 19 games for the Brazilian international have meant golden boy Callum Hudson-Odoi has been restricted mostly to appearances off the bench. At 31 years old, you expect Willian to start declining and be on the way out of Stamford Bridge. However, he’s only got better over the last couple of seasons. Like a fine wine.

Every transfer window, we see the likes of Barcelona and Juventus showing strong interest in Willian. We’ve seen bids in excess of £50 million rejected by the Chelsea hierarchy for a winger that isn’t exceptional and no longer a talented prospect. Very strange from both parties. Yet, perhaps that’s a testament to how underrated the former Shakhtar Donetsk attacker is:

Willian – Industrious and reliable

Despite the constant managerial changes by The Blues, Willian seems to be an ever present figure in and amongst the side. Since arriving in 2013, he’s made 317 appearances for the side. Mourinho, Conte, Sarri and now Lampard have all seen the Brazilian international as an important part of their sides. That’s not a coincidence, it’s because they value his ridiculous work rate.

You look at the game against Arsenal yesterday. Tammy Abraham’s winner was all because of Willian. The incredible sprint from his own half to final third before cutting the ball back from Abraham to finish. 31 years of age and still able to bust a gut despite playing so many games a season. Ridiculous fitness and an incredible work ethic.

40+ appearances every year for SIX seasons shows exceptional fitness and work rate. Source: Wikipedia

The end product – Offensive and Defensive

Furthermore, in terms of output this season, the Brazilian has shone for Chelsea. 2 shots and 2.1 key passes per game in the Premier League highlight the threat he has posed out wide. The pace, skilful dribbling and, at the end of it, end product. But alongside his attacking contribution, Willian has worked hard defensively too. Something Jose Mourinho certainly valued during his second tenure at the Bridge. 1.3 tackles and 0.7 interceptions per game for a winger is impressive, a testament to what he brings to the team other than goals.

Willian in action for Chelsea

Perhaps he’s not the most consistent of players and can be frustrating to watch. But Willian deserves far more credit than he currently gets, considering what he’s done for the club and how well he’s doing at the moment. Hudson-Odoi has hardly had a look in because of the 2 time Premier League winner. Reliable and industrious the words the sum up the criminally underrated Brazilian.

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